India today announced a major step in trade liberalisation effort reducing its sensitive list of imports for least developed countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) grouping to 25 tariff lines from the earlier 480 tariff lines.
The government of India has issued a notification to reduce the sensitive list for the least developed countries under the South Asian Free Trade Area Agreement (SAFTA) from 480 tariff lines to just 25 tariff lines. Zero basic customs duty access will be given to all items removed with immediate effect, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the summit.
''I believe the process should move much faster, though at a pace we are all comfortable with,'' he said, adding, ''I recognise that India has a special responsibility that flows from the geography of our region and the state of our economy and market.''
He, however, said while India is committed to free and balanced growth of trade in South Asia, non-tariff barriers are an area of concern.
''Competition begins at home. Our industries have to learn to compete if our economies are to have a future in this globalised world that we live in,'' he said.
He said all countries of the region can benefit from their respective comparative advantages provided the rich resources like hydropower, mineral resources, transit facilities, marine resources, scientific and technological base and above the young population, which will drive consumption and investment in the years ahead, are well exploited.